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Reputation and Credit Market Formation: How Relational Incentives and Legal Contract Enforcement Interact

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  • Fehr, Ernst

    () (University of Zurich)

  • Zehnder, Christian

    () (University of Lausanne)

Abstract

The evidence suggests that relational contracting and legal rules play an important role in credit markets but on the basis of the prevailing field data it is difficult to pin down their causal impact. Here we show experimentally that relational incentives are a powerful causal determinant for the existence and performance of credit markets. In fact, in the absence of legal enforcement and reputation formation opportunities the credit market breaks down almost completely while if reputation formation is possible a stable credit market emerges even in the absence of legal enforcement of debt repayment. Introducing legal enforcement of repayments causes a further significant increase in credit market trading but has only a surprisingly small impact on overall efficiency. The reason is that legal enforcement of debt repayments weakens relational incentives and exacerbates another moral hazard problem in credit markets – the choice of inefficient high-risk projects.

Suggested Citation

  • Fehr, Ernst & Zehnder, Christian, 2009. "Reputation and Credit Market Formation: How Relational Incentives and Legal Contract Enforcement Interact," IZA Discussion Papers 4351, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4351
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    Cited by:

    1. Simon Cornée & David Masclet, 2013. "Long-Term Relationships, Group lending and Peer Sanctioning in Microfinance: New Experimental Evidence," Working Papers CEB 13-026, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    2. Steffen Huck & Gabriele K. Lünser & Jean-Robert Tyran, 2016. "Price competition and reputation in markets for experience goods: an experimental study," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 47(1), pages 99-117, February.
    3. Trautmann, Stefan T. & Vlahu, Razvan, 2013. "Strategic loan defaults and coordination: An experimental analysis," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 747-760.
    4. Brown, Martin & Trautmann, Stefan T. & Vlahu, Razvan, 2012. "Contagious Bank Runs: Experimental Evidence," Working Papers on Finance 1207, University of St. Gallen, School of Finance.
    5. Sharma, Priyanka, 2017. "Is more information always better? A case in credit markets," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 269-283.
    6. Brown, Martin & Serra-Garcia, Marta, 2011. "The Threat of Exclusion and Relational Contracting," Discussion Papers in Economics 12287, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    7. Brown, Martin & Schmitz, Jan & Zehnder, Christian, 2016. "Social Norms and Strategic Default," Working Papers on Finance 1608, University of St. Gallen, School of Finance, revised Jun 2017.
    8. Brown, M. & Serra Garcia, M., 2010. "Relational Contracting Under the Threat of Expropriation – Experimental Evidence," Discussion Paper 2010-85, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    9. Brown, Martin & Serra-García, Marta, 2014. "The Threat of Exclusion and Implicit Contracting," Working Papers on Finance 1407, University of St. Gallen, School of Finance, revised Jun 2016.
    10. Brown, Martin & Trautmann, Stefan T. & Vlahu, Razvan, 2014. "Understanding bank-run contagion," Working Paper Series 1711, European Central Bank.
    11. Arruñada, Benito & Casari, Marco, 2016. "Fragile markets: An experiment on judicial independence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 129(C), pages 142-156.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    credit markets; relationship lending; reputation formation; legal enforcement;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation

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